Local officers help FOP lobbying effort

STEUBENVILLE – Two city police officers joined Fraternal Order of Police officials Wednesday to lobby state legislators in Columbus regarding collective bargaining laws and more funding for local law enforcement agencies.

“Rob Cook who serves on our local Ohio Labor Council, joined me for the day of lobbying our local legislators,” said Jim Marquis, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1.

They met with state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, and state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, who “took time out of their schedules to discuss issues with us,” Marquis noted.

“It was my first meeting with Rep. Cera, and I found him to be very passionate about the issues of mutual concern.

“Jack Cera knows he is facing an uphill battle to restore Local Government Funding to the 2005 level. But he is not afraid to take on that fight,” stressed Marquis.

“And Lou Gentile told us he now serves on the Senate Finance Committee subcommittee on local government. That puts him in an excellent position to watch funding for local safety forces that is vital to our future.

“He will be able to advocate our need for funding for local law enforcement,” Marquis said.

“It was a good day for the Fraternal Order of Police. We first met with Ohio FOP President Jay McDonald who briefed us on the issues facing local law enforcement in Ohio today. President McDonald told us Ohio’s collective bargaining laws have worked for Ohio’s citizens since 1984. Ohio has enjoyed labor peace with its law enforcement officers since the passage of Ohio Revised Code 4117 in 1984,” said Marquis.

“Collective bargaining provides those who do the job a voice in the workplace. We believe that it is essential to maintaining fairness and professionalism in our profession,” Marquis added.

“The FOP is opposed to consolidating police agencies for the sake of consolidation and contracting law enforcement services to the private sector,” noted Marquis.

Marquis said the more than 50 FOP representatives who participated in the lobby day event also discussed revenue from the casino gaming industry.

“Ohio voters approved casino gaming in Ohio in 2009 and the Ohio FOP was very supportive of the issue because 2 percent of the casino tax was supposed to go to law enforcement training.

“But so far no dollars have been used locally. The Ohio Attorney General has been using the 85 percent of the casino tax to provide training through the state but none of that revenue has been shared with local agencies,” Marquis stated.

“We also met collectively with Senate President Keith Faber, who discussed the need for the FOP and the General Assembly to work together,” Marquis said.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com.)